This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to take inspiration from mythology, folk stories, and fairy tales. If you are thinking to yourself that the prompt seems right up my street that is because it is. Precisely so in fact. That is because I was asked by Bonnie and Barbara to be a guest artist this week. I was flattered and honoured to do so and, of course, that meant it was up to me to choose the prompt. You can find my post on the Joggles blog here and that outlines my process, illustrated with photos, in creating this art journal page.
I chose a selkie as the subject of my art journal page. Selkies are creatures from my country’s mythology (and that of Ireland) and I grew up hearing tales of seals that could transform into people, of stolen seal skins, and wives who fled back to the sea. I draw them quite often and have featured art work inspired by them twice on my blogs: once as a mixed media painting of a selkie in seal form and once in my altered book of monsters. I think this is my favourite of the mixed media selkies I have painted so far.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “water”. I do enjoy prompts that are as vague and open as that as it allows my mind to dance among many possibilities until I find the one that sparks with me. I decided to paint an illustration of a whale using watercolour. I love whales and often draw whales, even as doodles on pieces of scrap paper or the bottom of shopping lists. My challenge for this whale was to work really loosely (well, by my standards anyway) with the watercolour and to have the bare minimum of a guideline sketch. I sprinkled on some salt hoping to create a sort of barnacle effect. The white space was just too boring around the whale so I added some spatter. And that was when things really went wrong.
The alternative title to this blog post is ‘Arting with Cats’. My art table is set up in a corner of the kitchen that has large windows on two sides. It is flooded with light which makes it perfect as an art space but it means it also attracts the cats who, being cats, like to bask in the warmth of the sun and who share my interest in watching the birds visit the feeder outside the window. As such, the cats commandeered my art table. We reached a compromise whereby they now have just under half of the table – their cat bed indicating which is their territory – and I have the rest of it. I stick to my side of the bargain. Do they? Of course not. They are cats. Many is the time that they have padded across my art work or have knocked – deliberately! – boxes of pencils or paint sets off the table. When annoyed that I have not fed him earlier than usual, Satchi sits on my art table and picks up my paintbrushes in his mouth, one by one, and drops them onto the floor. On this occassion, I had just gotten up from the table to clean my brushes when Satchi plonked himself right in front of my art journal and swished his huge, fluffy tail right across the page. He thankfully did not manage to do much damage to the whale itself, as it was almost bone dry, but the spatter dots smeared and smudged. Ugh. Had it been anything other than my art journal, I would have been very annoyed and frustrated. However, my art journal is for experiments, some of which go wrong. This page, therefore, becomes another record of what goes wrong when one attempts arting with cats.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to incorporate a mandala or something similar. I am no good at mandalas. I have tried them a few times but I just don’t have the patience or precision required. I like to draw things that are wonky, asymmetrical, that involve dribble and spatter. That’s my kind of thing. The mathematical precision and repetition of mandala are just not me. My workaround, therefore, was to think of something I could use that would create a repeated pattern for me. My eyes landed on my small alphabet stamps and I had my flash of inspiration. Stamping letters in concentric rings should have been simple enough but even that “cheat” defeated me because I did not line up the stamps with enough accuracy to create sharp rings.
I was going to keep the page black and white and let it sit like that for a while. I worried that it was a bit too boring, however, so I spritzed the page with yellow spray ink and spattered on some orange and red watercolour. It turns out that I much prefer the monochrome version.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was “opposites”. I ran through a lot of ideas in my head before choosing to depict Night and Day as female figures. This was something I had tried before in my Rainbow Art Journal but I had not been satisfied with the result. This was an opportunity to revisit the subject and hopefully accomplish a better outcome. Whereas before I had worked across two pages, this time I confined the composition to a single page. To further enhance the concept of opposites, I placed the figures top to tail as I knew I had liked that composition when I used it in my most recent Red Riding Hood page.
To create a bit more visual interest to the page, I adhered some collage materials as a first layer and ensured that those still showed through subsequent layers in places. While the composition and colour scheme places the Night and Day figures in opposition to each other, I also wanted to connect them, because they are cyclical, so I drew their hair swirling into the sector of the other and had the metallic dots sweep across the diagonal dividing line in places.
Last week’s prompt for the Art Journal Adventure was to incorporate a list. I am a big list maker. It helps me process things mentally as well as being an organisational tool. I always have several lists on the go at once. Most are traditional paper-based lists but I also maintain some as computer files. I sometimes get a bit control freaky about my lists. I am one of those people who writes their shopping list according to the different sections of the supermarket – nothing freaky about that obviously since it is just common sense efficiency – but if I accidentally write an item in the wrong area of the list or if I don’t have enough space to neatly add an item into the correct area or if I just make some other sort of error, the handwriting equivalent of a typo, then I have to write my shopping list out again until I have a “fair copy”. I have sometimes written a shopping list out five times just to get it perfect.
I could have used the evolution of a weekly shopping list as the basis of my art journal page but I am not sure how visually interesting that would have been. Instead, because I am still focused on travel – since we just got back from our road trip and since my kids are going off, in pairs, on vacation with their grandparents – that was the subject my mind drifted towards. I decided, therefore, to record a list of the US states I have yet to visit. It is very much on my bucket list to visit all 50 states. Mr Pict is actually only missing three (North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Alaska, since you didn’t ask) and maybe for that reason he doesn’t quite get why I am obsessively intent on “collecting” more states. Upsettingly, before I undertook this journal page, I thought that as of last year’s road trip I had been to 31 states. However, when I added up the number of unvisited states on the completed page, I had twenty. What? That couldn’t be. I thought I had been on 25 states prior to last year’s road trip where I then added six more but it transpired my base calculation was incorrect. A previous art journal page had led me to think I was on the half-way mark back then. Nope. I had included New Hampshire which I actually have no claim on. As I have explained before, in order to claim a state I have to have done two of three things within its borders: pee, eat, sleep. Although I have been in New Hampshire, I did not do two of those three things. I, therefore, cannot claim it and am reduced to just 30 states visited with 20 left to go. This art journal page is, therefore, a sort of check list I can return to after future travels around America.
Now I need to devise another road trip that has a route through as many of these states as possible.
Last week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was the word “wonder”. I created an art journal page last year that was on the same theme which put me into a bit of creative stasis as I was blocked between having that image in my head and the desire to do something totally different. In the end, I asked my kids for ideas. They looked at me like I had wool for brains. Wonder Woman obviously. Duh. I decided to please my little comic book nerds by attempting an illustration of Wonder Woman. I didn’t want to even attempt copying comic book art so I drew Wonder Woman from my mind’s eye. Happily my sons agreed that I had depicted her costume correctly. Or at least close enough for them to give it a pass. Her proportions are very wacky, not least that massive head, but I kind of like her nevertheless.
An Art Journal Adventure prompt that I missed while on vacation was “Mystery”. I liked how vague that prompt was as it let my creative imagination wander around all sorts of possibilities. Since I was on vacation with no art supplies, I also had time to mull it over. By the time I sat down at my table to create something in my art journal, I had decided that my response would be on the subject of “red herrings”, those distracting clues in many a mystery novel or movie. I decided to make the metaphor literal and illustrate a can full of red herring. Of course, my fish do not resemble herring and are just the product of my imagination but I think the allusion is clear.